A Queensland man has been charged for re-publishing on a video-sharing site a viral video of a man swinging a baby around like a rag doll.
The controversial three-minute video had already been published widely across the internet and shown on American TV news shows. The clip can still be found online today.
Chris Illingworth, 60, a father of four from Maroochydore, thought he would share it with fellow users of Liveleak, a site similar to YouTube but focused on news and current events. In two years, he has uploaded hundreds of videos to Liveleak.
His home was raided on Sunday, November 30, by Queensland Police from Task Force Argos, which specialises in combating child pornography and child groomers.
He was charged with using the internet to access and publish child-abuse material and is scheduled to appear in court in Maroochydore on December 18.
It is understood that he had no involvement in the creation of the video, which cannot be published on this website for legal reasons.
The baby is laughing and smiling at the end of the clip, but the video has attracted criticism from child-welfare advocates because of how vigorously the man swings the baby by its arms.
In a phone interview, Illingworth described the clip as a “common interest story” and rejected any suggestions he was a child abuser or interested in such material.
He said that since being charged he could not eat, sleep or work and was worried his children and people in the local community would think he was a pedophile.
“I’ve had to go down to the hospital, my blood pressure is 160/108 and I’m on blood pressure pills and valium – all because of this,” he said.
“Do they realise what pain they put someone through? I could fall over dead over this. I can’t even get the office work done. I’m just a zombie.”
Queensland Police confirmed the charges but refused to comment, saying it would be inappropriate as the matter was before the courts.
Illingworth said his life changed the moment two officers – a detective chief inspector and a detective chief constable – banged on his door and demanded they search his house.
“I went to turn on the laptop and they got stinking mad, as if I was trying to delete something I guess, and I was just trying to be helpful,” he said.
The officers plugged a small black box into his computer and proceeded for an hour and a half to analyse the contents of his hard drive in a search for child pornography.
Illingworth said the officers insisted on visiting his office at a mechanic workshop to examine his computer there. They found nothing, Illingworth said.
Before being taken to the police station, Illingworth was allowed to make one call, which he used to phone the owner of Liveleak in Britain to ask that the video be removed.
He was advised to get a lawyer but declined as he was unable to find one on a Sunday afternoon, he said.
At Maroochydore police station, Illingworth was interviewed without a lawyer. He was forced to provide fingerprints, a DNA sample and a mug-shot photograph.
“They wouldn’t let me go to the toilet without them coming with me – I couldn’t go anywhere without someone following me,” he said.
The officers explained to Illingworth that they traced him using his IP address after someone in Britain reported the video clip to police. Interpol had found the clip was originally uploaded to a Russian website.
“It’s going to ruin my f—ing life and everything. I’m 60 years old and what did I do wrong?” Illingworth said.
“I didn’t make it, I didn’t play with a baby, I just uploaded it [the video clip]. It’s nothing sexual or anything else – just a smiling baby.”
Liveleak owner Hayden Hewitt has published a video on the site defending Illingworth and calling on members to help publicise the incident and “fight injustice”.
“Clearly the behaviour in the video is reckless, but I couldn’t say it’s abuse,” he said.
Colin Jacobs, vice-chairman of the online users’ rights lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia, said public anxiety around the depiction of children seemed to have spiked in recent times, fuelled by politicians and anti-child-abuse campaigners.
“It’s now reached the point where any parent would have to think twice about posting a photo of their children to a photo-sharing website,” he said.
“Cases like this seem to indicate that we’ve gone beyond the point of the sensible and entered into hysteria territory.”
Don’t the writers of the news think that we have attention spans that last longer than one sentence?
Perhaps if they tried writing three or maybe four sentence long paragraphs, they would get a pleasant surprise.
That is just my opinion, of course.
You may have your own.